By Claire West

Responding to the latest unemployment figures published yesterday (Wednesday) by the Office for National Statistics, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

'These figures are excellent news. People will be relieved to see unemployment falling sharply and redundancies decreasing.

'It is also encouraging to see full-time jobs making up three quarters of recent employment growth, and there has been a welcome increase in vacancies. The labour market is proving far more resilient than the rest of the economy.

'The only people not sharing in this good news are young people looking for work. Long-term youth joblessness is up by 18,000 on the quarter to reach 421,000.

'The government must prioritise tackling long-term youth unemployment before any more careers are wrecked before they barely get off the ground.

'And while more people are in work, they are still getting poorer in real terms in wages grow at less than half the rate of inflation.

'Jobs growth needs to be accompanied by stronger wage growth if consumer spending is to help drive our economic recovery.'